Spurs will be looking to get back to winning ways on Sunday after a disappointing showing at Wembley in the Champions League.
What will worry Sunderland is that despite losing midweek, Spurs didn’t look bad, creating numerous chances that they should have ultimately taken. It wasn’t an especially bad performance from Spurs, and the boos I heard at the final whistle were certainly unwarranted. The Lilywhites put in a decent performance, but must be more clinical in front of goal.
I expect a few changes to be made to the starting XI, namely Moussa Sissoko, who should start after having an impact on the Monaco game with his power and direct running. Harry Kane should also be dropped after an abysmal run, while Moussa Dembele should return after a lengthy spell out. Summer signing Georges Kevin-Nkoudou could also feature, though Pochetinno is unlikely to remove Sissoko or Lamela from the starting lineup.
The main surprise in my predicted starting XI will be the inclusion of American youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers; with the poor display of Ben Davies in midweek, it would not surprise me to see Vertonghen moved to left-back, with Carter-Vickers starting at centre-half. Kyle Walker should retain his place given Kieran Trippier’s defensive weaknesses, but against a side like Sunderland, Trippier could well be a good option offensively.
Sunderland have looked liable at the back this season, and lost 3-0 in their last game to an impressive Everton side. However, the Sunderland defence failed to deal with the physicality and power of Romelu Lukaku, so Pochettino may consider playing Vincent Janssen as the lone striker with Sissoko more centrally to emulate the brute force of the Belgian. In attack, Sunderland really don’t offer too much; Jermain Defoe guarantees goals, but there’s a distinct lack of creativity in the midfield, and at this stage in the season Sunderland have a tendency to be nothing short of utterly abysmal. Spurs should therefore be confident going into the game.
As for Sunderland, David Moyes has really done little to inspire the fans this season, and many things haven’t changed. The 3-0 defeat to Everton is a testament to this; it was a weak performance, especially after they went behind. In the corresponding fixture last season, Sunderland took the lead through Patrick Van-Aahnholt, but Spurs drew level almost immediately through Christian Eriksen, and went on to record a comfortable 4-1 victory after Eriksen bagged another; Moussa Dembele and Harry Kane completed the scoring.
The return of Moussa Dembele could well signal the return of the Spurs we saw at times last season, and the Lilywhites will certainly be looking to build on their domestic form after a 4-0 victory at Stoke last week.